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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PRHS3170 Religion, Belief and Ethics

20 creditsClass Size: 45

Module manager: Dr. Mikel Burley

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Prior knowledge of philosophy of religion, or theology/religious studies with some philosophical component.

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module deals with the overarching question of how religious beliefs and practices can be conceptualized, as well as specific topics such as indigenoustribal and/or ancient religious practices, eternal life, reincarnation, prayer, the problem of evil, and connections between religious belief, ethical values, and conceptions of humanity. It is especially suitable for students interested in the meaning of religious forms of language and how religious beliefs and practices are to be understood.


To broaden and deepen students' knowledge of important philosophical issues concerning religious belief, religious practice and ethics. These issues encompass indigenous religious practices, and non-Abrahamic as well as Abrahamic traditions.

The module explores alternative viewpoints and methods of inquiry that have been developed by philosophers and scholars of religion from the mid-twentieth century onwards, giving special attention to debates over the interpretation of religious uses of language and the relation between beliefs, attitudes and practices.

Learning outcomes
Having completed the module, students should be able to demonstrate:
- advanced knowledge of a range of philosophical and interdisciplinary methods of inquiry into religious and ethical topics
- a critical understanding of key philosophical, theological and anthropological viewpoints on these topics
- an advanced ability to develop philosophical and interdisciplinary arguments of their own.


Indicative list of topics:
1. Understanding magic and religious rituals
2. Religion and superstition: is there a real distinction?
3. The nature of religious belief
4. Conceptions of eternal life
5. Prayer
6. Evil, self-love and self-sacrifice
7. Religion and ethics.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Preparation for seminars (reading set texts and writing notes in response to set study questions; and, on at least one occasion, preparing material for presentation): 78 hours
- Research for, and writing of, first essay: 50 hours
- Research for, and writing of, second essay: 50 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Observation of student participation in seminar discussions
- Non-assessed presentations by individual students (or pairs, or small groups) of up to 10 minutes during seminars
- Feedback on short draft or essay plan
- One-to-one discussion with the tutor during the tutor’s office hours
- The first assessed essay will be submitted mid-way through the semester; this will enable the module leader, as well as the students themselves, to become aware of strengths or weaknesses in students' learning.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words50.00
Essay2,000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:26:28


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